Aspects of Measuring Mass Balances of Endocrine Disrupting Compounds through Wastewater Treatment
AuthorTeske, Sondra Sue Gery
Committee ChairEla, Wendell P.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractEcological impacts of natural estrogens and xenoestrogens in treated wastewater include altered sexual development and sex ratios among continuously exposed organisms. The primary sources of estrogenic activity in wastewater are natural estrogens such as estrone, 17β-estradiol and estriol and synthetic compounds like 17α- ethinylestradiol, alkylphenols and alklphenol ethoxylates. Precursors in raw wastewater can yield estrogenic intermediates during wastewater treatment. All these compounds can be destroyed by biochemical processes conventional wastewater treatment processes, suggesting that conventional processes can be optimized for removal of estrogenic activity from wastewater. Sorption to sludges derived from wastewater treatment affects the fates of hydrophobic xenoestrogens such as nonylphenol, in part because the biodegradability of sorbed contaminants is limited. It may also be possible to tailor sludge stabilization processes to remove trace contaminants, including estrogens. For example, there are significant differences in the efficiencies of aerobic and anaerobic digestion for destruction of alkylphenols and probably other estrogenic compounds with aromatic moieties. Because advanced wastewater treatment is not economically feasible for most communities, there is ample incentive to develop accurate relationships between operational parameters and removal of estrogenic compounds during secondary wastewater treatment. Large quantities of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have been used as flame retardants in clothing and plastic products since the 1970s. A small fraction of the PBDEs in manufactured products subsequently enters municipal wastewater. The resistance of these compounds to chemical and biochemical transformations provides opportunities for accumulation in sediments. Balances developed for PBDE congeners indicate that conventional wastewater treatment processes and soil infiltration of treated wastewater in recharge operations do not discriminate significantly among the major congeners in commercially available PBDE products. Accumulation of PBDEs at near part-per-million levels was measured in the sediments at the Sweetwater Recharge Facility in Tucson, Arizona, during 10-15 years of operation. Half times for loss of major PBDE congeners from sediments were decades or longer. Local agricultural soils amended with biosolids over a 20-year period showed similar accumulation of PBDEs. The widespread use of PBDEs in commercial products, compound persistence and toxicity indicate that additional effort is warranted to better understand fate-determining processes for PBDEs in the environment.
Degree ProgramEnvironmental Engineering